“THAT MARDI GRAS WILL KILL YOU!”
I had begun feeling rough Sunday morning, but was too invested in Mardi Gras to take a break. As luck would have it, it rained sporadically every day thereafter, yet I pushed on despite my increasing congestion and decreasing energy, traversing half the city on Mardi Gras day while stopping to rest on the sidewalk when I felt my fever spike. I fought and ignored my body so I could experience the Full Monty. Now it was my body’s turn for revenge.
That night after returning to Metairie, I filled the Captain in on my day’s adventures (he got a particular kick out of us ending up in a West African restaurant Mardi Gras night) and then fled to bed. I slept hard, but not soundly. I constantly awoke in coughing fits, hacking so hard I’d get light-headed and experience shooting pain through my temples. Drifting in and out of sleep, I didn’t emerge from my guest room until after 11 a.m. and then only sat on the couch in a daze, not thinking to check my phone which had blown up with messages of concern. Finally, I found the gumption to make a cup of tea to ease my raw throat. As I stood there, looking as though I’d refused to yield as horseback police cleared Bourbon Street at midnight, the Captain walked in and shook his head: “Audrey [his daughter] is sick too. I tell ya, that Mardi Gras will kill you!” Touche. I wasn’t knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, but I felt like I was at least running their paper route!
BAD PENNY, VALENTINE’S EDITION
The previous week had been so busy that it had taken two posts to detail most days and four for Mardi Gras itself, yet I can sum up my Ash Wednesday in one short paragraph. For most of the day I lay on the bed in the guest room, watching so-so TV I normally didn’t have time for (in the coming days I caught up on a decade of Law & Order: SVU and developed a mild addiction to Bones), getting up for short spurts to organize my room and sort through the beads, booty, and bedlam I’d collected during my journeys. The Rex parade had started something new this year, throwing unique medallions for each of its animal-themed floats and , once organized, I laid my prizes out on my suitcase to photograph, making some minor repairs to my ceramic ‘jester’ that had hit the ground. In addition to the Jester, one of Rex’s perennial floats, I’d caught a dinosaur as well as a lion that I’d traded with Tusa for what looked like a rubber chicken in a crown. (Someone claimed it was an eagle, but, being a rubber chicken connoisseur, I’m sticking with my interpretation.) I was still religiously wedded to my posting schedule and managed to write and post a short article despite my malaise; nevertheless, a little straightening & organizing and a simple article absolutely exhausted me.
After another up-and-down night, I awoke Thursday again feeling completely drained. I joined the Captain for breakfast and nursed coffee and tea all morning, vacillating between working on the blog and watching TV. In mid-afternoon I found the will to shower and get dressed. It was Valentine’s Day and I felt particularly guilty for my intrusion. As I moved around in slow-motion, the Captain insisted that I stay (though he did suggest I visit a walk-in clinic). He’d bought Peggy candy and a card and assured me that they had no special dinner plans and would enjoy the company. I was quietly relieved. The shower had drained what little energy I had. The Captain is an excellent cook and we had a pleasant meal after which I helped with the dishes and retired to bed for a night of Bones-SVU-Bone-SVU-Bones….
LIKE A YOUNG MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY (WITHOUT THE HERBAL ENHANCEMENT)
As Friday dawned, the Captain and Peggy continued to urge me to go to a clinic but my health insurance had just ended and I didn’t want to spend a hundred dollars or so to have them tell me I had a cold–rest and drink fluids. Last night had been the worst yet. I had coughed for over an hour straight when I started desperately looking up home remedies on my phone. I found one suggesting peanut butter, which I luckily had packed in my bag of snacks that now set by the bed. I began taking small bites, letting the paste melt and slide down my throat. This allowed me to sleep for a couple of hours at a time before waking and repeating. The ferocity of my cough left me feeling like a fever was breaking–the dark just before dawn–though after I was literally dazed & confused like a young Matthew McConaughey, but without the herbal enhancement. I sat on the couch that morning for over an hour just staring into space after sleeping on and off till past 11 again. Once I gathered my wits, I showered and, having some reserve energy, found a Panera Bread close-by on my GPS. I wanted to get out of my hosts’ hair for a while and needed a change of scenery.
I felt so poorly upon arriving at Panera, though, that I reclined the seat in my truck and napped for fifteen minutes before entering. Once I started sipping coffee and writing, however, I began to physically rebound though mentally I remained foggy. I ordered a pastry with my coffee, having had lunch with the Captain before I left, and later returned to order a soup and sandwich, parking in Panera from 12:30 to 7:30. In that seven hours, though I spent some time sorting through pictures and looking for a room, I largely focused on pulling one blog post out of my mental cobwebs. Over six hours on one short article. It had to be a record; but at least I was moving forward. I returned home to nibble on some catfish as Captain and Peggy finished dinner then retired to watch TV.
When Saturday dawned, I was still sick but the worst of it had receded–at least for now. (It would soon rebound and three weeks later I’m stilly fighting the funk.) I was starting to feel the Bad Penny joke was becoming all too real, so I jumped on the internet during breaks in writing and bought a room through Priceline for $60 a night on St. Charles a block from the Quarter. It wouldn’t be available until Sunday night, though, so I drove back into the city to meet with, fruitlessly, a couple of potential roommates and drive around to familiarize myself with Uptown neighborhoods. After a quick dinner, I stopped at a coffee shop to write a post, returning to Metairie late that night.
The next morning as I packed to head downtown, my excitement should have been epic. I was about to spend three nights within a few minutes walk of some of the greatest restaurants and music clubs in the nation. Instead, I was sick and bereft of energy or enthusiasm. Rather than a dream come true, I was about to walk right into a bitterly ironic comedy of errors.